Marillion: Live At Cadogan Hall
I'm not going to lie to the readers and say that my two decade appreciation for Marillion music has been one of nothing but bliss because that would be wrong. Yes I began my journey with the band as a Fish fan but I also embraced the amazing vocal register and talents of Steve Hogarth when he replaced him in 1989. That being said I have ridden the roller coaster of musical output that the band has given us since H began his tenure. I loved what he brought to the band in the beginning but questioned a lot of the experimentation that was done on the whole as the later years came to pass. It seemed as though Marillion were opting to be the band that confused my musical palette the most or were actively choosing to vex those fans who wanted to clearly define what they were "all about" in terms of sound. To better explain what I mean let me say that while I loved Marbles when it came out, I was less than pleased with Somewhere Else and found myself bored to tears with their acoustic reworking on Less Is More. Oddly enough this Live At Cadogan Hall was filmed during the 2009 Less Is More tour which I did not manage to attend when it came through town and that fact alone had me curious. I was intrigued based on not enjoying Somewhere Else but loving their Somewhere Over London live film which brought that tour to your living room. Clearly Marillion seemed able to recapture ones interest with the solid live show if they somehow missed you on the studio recording.
The 2CD set is broken up into two unique sets of material with the first half being a song by song presentation of the Less Is More album minus the final track of "Cannibal Surf Babe". I wonder why they did that since I love the tune. Anyways, as I listened to these tracks that were culled from Anoraknophobia, Marillion.com, Season's End and more I found myself getting more wrapped up in their being delivered in this fashion. Needless to say I really liked it, and could not wait to get my hands on the companion DVD. Hogarth is in perhaps the finest form ever and this is a great thing to listen to since he has such an amazing voice. Just as we found on the studio versions the band is offering up the music played with dulcimer, vibraphone, xylophone and acoustic guitars and electric piano as well as bass and drums. "Quartz" is a highlight of this CD as is the new track we got from "Less Is More" with "It's Not Your Fault". The second CD finds the band using the same premise as they did with the Less Is More album and taking a number of other classics from their repertoire and giving them a similar treatment. Highlights for me from this part of the concert were "Beautiful", "No One Can" and "The Answering Machine". "Beautiful" has remained one of my very favorites of Hogarth penned tunes and the same applies for "Easter" as each of these was just made for the acoustic setting. Don't expect any Fish material during this show as there is none to be found, but I can honestly say that you will not miss it. As I said, Marillion is a band that refuses to be forced into a genre corner and continually seeks to expand their musical exploration. I would have liked to see this CD packaged with the film but that seems to be a high hope that will never happen. If you only enjoy audio and appreciate the band then you should give this one a chance as I truly enjoyed it. Perhaps I will give the studio version of Less Is More another chance now that I have heard it in concert. Now onto the DVD. Stay tuned.
2. Interior Lulu
3. Out Of This World
4. Wrapped Up In Time
5. The Space
6. Hard As Love
8. If My Heart Were A Ball
9. It's Not Your Fault
10. Memory Of Water
11. This Is The 21st Century
12. No One Can
14. This Train Is My Life
15. You're Gone
16. 80 Days
18. The Answering Machine
21. Three Minute Boy
Added: April 8th 2011
Reviewer: Ken Pierce
Related Link: Band Website
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|Marillion: Live At Cadogan Hall
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-04-07 16:31:08
Anyone who read my Listening Room contribution from a few months back will already know that I saw Marillion play a show in Glasgow on the Less Is More acoustic tour and was extremely unimpressed with what I witnessed. As a long term fan of the band and also as someone who has attended a lot of their gigs over the years, it was the first time I had departed from one of their performances truly disappointed. On that night the band's singer Steve Hogarth kept mentioning that the five members of the band had to scoot off as quick as they could to catch a ferry to the next night's show and the venue itself was oversold with many paying punters unable to see the stage properly. This led many to start chatting during the songs and with the quiet acoustic nature of the set this resulted in those who could see becoming more than slightly agitated. Rather than defuse the situation, Hogarth announced that if he didn't get quiet for the piano and vocal only song "It's Not Your Fault" then he wouldn't play it and true to his word when those who could not see him properly and those unfortunate enough to have the performance drowned out by the hand dryer in the gents toilet (I kid you not!) lost interest, he threw his toys out of the pram and stopped mid-song! Evidently it was our fault!
So if you'll excuse my long preamble, you'll understand that I approached this twin disc release of the same set that I witnessed, but this time presented in the much more conducive surrounds of Cadogan Hall in London, with more than a little trepidation. However after living with this album for a few weeks, I'm not sure whether to be delighted that what I saw doesn't signal a down-turn in the quality of a band I love, instead being merely an off-night in the wrong location, or to be sorely disappointed that I didn't properly experience what is a moving and compelling set of songs played in an innovative and interesting manner. Disc one is a straight run through (minus the bonus track "Gazpacho") of the Less Is More album, with Hogarth, keyboard player Mark Kelly and bassist Pete Trewavas tackling all manner of strange and wonderful instruments such as dulcimers, xylophones, glockenspiels, celeste, autoharp and pipe organ to recreate and rearrange well known Marillion songs into some remarkably unfamiliarly familiar new propositions. Tracks like "Quartz", "This Is The 21st Century" and "The Space" take on a completely different tone to the original versions, but the biggest change can be found on the Brave track "Hard As Love" and "Interior Lulu" originally from Marillion.com. The former evolves from a harsh, emotional scream into a refined and passionate plea for understanding, while the later takes a song that has split even the loyal fans of the band and presents it as an accessible, if considered meander.
"Gazpacho" turns up on disc two, as do another nine slightly more straight forward acoustic renditions from the Marillion catalogue. Opening track "No One Can" benefits hugely from its stark, bare piano arrangement, turning what was a twee "love-song" into a heartfelt outpouring of emotion, while "Beautiful" thoroughly lives up to its name. Guitarist Steve Rothery ups the tempo with some glorious acoustic strumming on "Answering Machine", while drummer Ian Mosley shows his undoubted skill across the whole album by driving the songs in a totally unobtrusive way, which is no mean feat for any drummer in this situation.
Live From Cadogan Hall is an album that really illustrates the skill, talent and song writing ability of a much misunderstood band who have been brave enough to deconstruct their own music to an extent that almost turns it into new songs. The fact that they mastered a whole host of instruments to make sure the effect was so startlingly different, but still hugely enjoyable also is to be admired.
There may be many Marillion live albums from different eras available already, but if you are looking for something that genuinely presents the band in a new light while still capturing their essence, then Live From Cadogan Hall is a complete joy.
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